MUUG Monthly Meetings for 2002-03


Please note our new meeting location: The IBM offices, at 400 Ellice Ave. (between Edmonton and Kennedy). When you arrive, you will have to sign in at the reception desk, and then wait for someone to take you (in groups) to the meeting room. Please try to arrive by about 7:15 PM, so the meeting can start promptly at 7:30 PM. Don't be late, or you may not get in.

Limited parking is available for free on the street, or in a lot across Ellice from IBM, for $1.00 for the evening. Indoor parking is also available nearby, at Portage Place, for $2.00 for the evening.

Also, don't forget about our MUUG t-shirt promotion, being coordinated by Shawn Wallbridge. If you're interested in a shirt, or in submitting a design suggestion, now's the time to respond.

September 10, 2002: Network Traffic Monitoring with MRTG and SNMP

At the January 9, 2001, meeting on Network Load Tuning, Gilbert Detillieux took us through some of the load and usage monitoring utilities that are available for UNIX, such as MRTG, among others. However, the coverage of MRTG was rather brief, and didn't include any information on how to set it up. In this month's "Mini-HowTo" presentation, Gilbert took us through MRTG in more detail, including how to set up a configuration file to monitor a network interface, and some of the configuration options that can be used to tune the output. The presentation also covered setting up SNMP support under Linux, using the ucd-snmp package, so that MRTG can get interface statistics from it, plus many tips on how to secure that setup. Finally, an example was shown of using MRTG to display CPU usage stats.

The meeting also included a longer-than-usual round-table discussion, plus some preliminary discussion on the proposed by-law amendments and the call for nominations for the MUUG board.

October 8, 2002: Introduction to DHCP

Kevin McGregor, Network Analyst with the City of Winnipeg, described the theory, benefits and general operation of the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. DHCP is a well-defined protocol which is widely implemented but not well understood. The goal of this presentation was to leave you with a good idea of how and why to implement DHCP in your network environment, whether you manage a home network or a WAN in a large company.

The meeting also included our usual round-table discussion, plus the vote on the by-law amendments and the election by acclamation of the new MUUG board of directors. A big welcome to our new board members, Adam Thompson, Sean Walberg, and Shawn Wallbridge, and a big "thank you" to our returning board members, Gilbert Detillieux, Kevin McGregor, and Doug Shewfelt!

November 12, 2002: Essential Unix for System Administrators

Sean Walberg, who presented GPG in March 2002 and Netfilter in April 2001, was our guest presenter again this month. This presentation was originally going to focus on some of the lower levels of Unix such as files and filesystems, processes, and the boot procedure. However, that would have been too much for one presentation, so Sean focussed on the system startup process from the point the kernel is loaded (which we'll leave as "magic" for now) to the point where you get a login prompt.

More specifically, he covered the init process, the /etc/inittab file, the various run-level rc scripts, the service-specific scripts in /etc/init.d, and the network services started through inetd or xinetd. Some (system-specific) tools for enabling and disabling services were also shown, such as chkconfig, tksysv, and ntsysv.

Networking through your power outlets: After the usual round-table discussion, Bill Reid did a short "show and tell" presentation on two products. One was an enclosure for a 2 inch (laptop type) IDE disk drive, which lets you use it as a portable drive that interfaces (and draws its power) via USB. The other was an Ethernet to power line bridge.

Most homes have multiple power outlets in every room, and power outlets are all connected together through the electrical wiring already installed in the home. Since HomePlug technology allows the power outlets to do "double duty" as both a power source and a network port, products can implement this technology at a lower cost. Also, the convenience of connecting any device through a power outlet will enable exciting new products covering entertainment, information access and telephony services.

More information on the technology is available from The HomePlug Powerline Alliance. A Canadian company that manufactures a HomePlug chip is Cogency. A Canadian seller of HomePlug products is NCIX.com (search for powerline).

December 10, 2002: Gentoo Linux

Gentoo Linux is a modern distribution that focuses on performance and features. It's packaging system was inspired by the BSD ports tree, but with many enhancements.

In this presentation, Shawn Wallbridge briefly covered the install, how the Portage system works and other neat things about this distribution.

The round-table discussion included, among other things, Shawn bouncing around the idea of having an additional monthly meeting dedicated to round-table discussions. This would not take anything away from the regular monthly meetings, but would allow members an additional opportunity each month to meet and share ideas and information. Shawn has volunteered to act as moderator for these meetings. If you're interested, be sure to sign up to the roundtable mailing list, if you haven't already, and join the online discussion. Be sure to let Shawn know you're interested in participating, and watch the list for details on where and when the meetings might occur.

January 14, 2003: Mac OS X Update

This month, Douglas Hamilton, Apple Product Professional at the University of Manitoba, returned to give us an update on Mac OS X, a year after his last presentation. Many changes have occurred to Mac OS X over the past year (the current version is now 10.2.2). These changes include a revised kernel, greater security, improved development tools and greatly improved printing & networking technologies (including a new open standard). The presentation covered the significant changes pertaining to the Unix underpinnings of Mac OS X, and how they have improved this operating system. This presentation also covered the user interface changes which have been made to enable consumer (as opposed to power-user) access to the new Unix services included in Mac OS X.

February 11, 2003: Wireless Network Setup and Security

Wireless networks are becoming a popular alternative for home users and small businesses. A small LAN can be installed more quickly (and sometimes more cheaply) with standards-compliant wireless equipment than with traditional ethernet wiring. Unfortunately, many users value the flexibility of wirless networks without recognizing the security risks involved. Adam Thompson discussed and demonstrated connecting a RedHat 8.0 system to an existing ethernet infrastructure and configuring WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy).

March 11, 2003: Wiki and TWiki

Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly. We will focus on a Wiki implementation called TWiki, a flexible, powerful, and easy to use Web-based collaboration platform. Use TWiki to run a project development space, a document management system, a knowledge base, or any other groupware tool, on an intranet or on the internet. Web content can be created collaboratively by using just a browser. Developers can create new web applications based on a Plugin API.

Bill Reid presented this month's topic.

April 8, 2003: An Introduction to Python

Python is an object-oriented, interpreted, high-level, dynamic and easy-to-use programming language. It features high-level data types, a simple class model, a rich standard library, exception handling, an interactive shell to try out code "on-the-fly" and much more. Python runs on almost every platform you can think of from Linux to the Mac, and has even been ported to the Sony Playstation 2.

Brad Bollenbach introduced us to this "other language that begins with P" and showed how it can make your life easier, your code simpler, and how other people are putting the language to interesting use.

Brad has provided us with the slides to his presentation.

May 13, 2003: Samba 3

Samba is a suite of programs that seamlessly provide SMB/CIFS file-and-print services to Windows clients. A robust and reliable implementation, it is now at version 2.2.8. What's in store for the future? In development now, and available for download for testing is version 3.0alpha.

This version has many enhancements to the 2.x versions, including Active Directory support (this release is able to join a ADS realm as a member server and authenticate users using LDAP/Kerberos), Unicode support, better Windows 2000 printing support including publishing printer attributes in Active Directory, support for migrating from a Windows NT 4.0 domain, support for establishing trust relationships with Windows NT 4.0 domain controllers, and lots of other changes!

Kevin McGregor showed us how to get started in testing this leading-edge technology.

June 10, 2003: Linux Clusters

The ability to cluster servers is one of the biggest steps toward acceptance of Linux in mission-critical applications. There are multiple clustering products available, and Red Hat now bundles two different types with their Enterprise server product. Clustering can increase both the reliability and the scalability of many different types of applications.

Adam Thompson was our presenter for this month. Three types of clustering were discussed (Failover, LVS, and Beowulf) and some typical examples of each were presented.

And, as we did last year (this may become a tradition), we ended off the year with a group photo...

MUUG Meeting Attendees, June 2002
"Say FREE!" (Photo courtesy of John Donovan)

July 2003: No meeting this month

August 2003: No meeting this month

Please note our new meeting location: The IBM offices, at 400 Ellice Ave. (between Edmonton and Kennedy). When you arrive, you will have to sign in at the reception desk, and then wait for someone to take you (in groups) to the meeting room. Please try to arrive by about 7:15 PM, so the meeting can start promptly at 7:30 PM. Don't be late, or you may not get in.

Limited parking is available for free on the street, or in a lot across Ellice from IBM, for $1.00 for the evening. Indoor parking is also available nearby, at Portage Place, for $2.00 for the evening.